8 years ago

Volume 17 Issue 5 - February 2012

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  • February
  • Toronto
  • Jazz
  • Theatre
  • Symphony
  • Arts
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  • Quartet

Beat by Beat / In With

Beat by Beat / In With the NewBeaten to the PunchDAVID PERLMANThe lack of space for a full-out “In With The New” columnthis month is more than somewhat offset by the fact thatseveral of our other columnists in the issue have stolen mythunder anyway!Robert Wallace, page 8, talks about ObeahOpera, Nicole Brooks’ new work, as well asabout Queen of Puddings’ Beckett Feck-it, atCanadian Stage. Chris Hoile, pages 18 and 19,talks about two works I would otherwise havedrawn attention to: the COC production of KaijaSaariaho’s opera, L’Amour de loin, playing at theFour Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts;and Toronto Operetta Theatre’s first professionalrollout of the John Beckwith/James Reaneyopus Taptoo!And there’s more. Pamela Margles, in theconcert notes to her review of Kaija Saariaho:Visions, Narratives, Dialogues (“BookShelf,”page 58) draws attention to four other concertsthat will feature Saariaho’s music during thecomposer’s visit. (Three of these, by the way,are under Soundstreams’s auspices — and I willreturn to a discussion of Soundstreams.) Even ourCD reviewers get into the act. Andrew Timar’sCage matchcoming!review of a Finnish Radio Symphony recording of Saariaho’s music,page 62, references L’Amour de loin. And a Leslie Mitchell-Clarkereview, on the same page, of two + two, a new release by TorQPercussion Quartet, is followed by a note pointing out TorQ’sappearance in the final concert of the U of T New Music Festival(February 5).Of Toronto’s major presenters of new music (Array, Contact!,Continuum, Esprit, Gallery 345, Music Gallery, New MusicConcerts, Queen of Puddings, Soundstreams and Tapestry NewOpera), Soundstreams is the one to which we have, so far this season,devoted the least ink in this column. This month is as good asany to redress that, because the company has an extraordinary diversityof material on offer. In addition to the three Saariaho contributionsreferred to earlier, Soundstreams also presents two full-fledgedKoerner Hall productions. The first of these, The Sealed Angel,billed as a music drama, is the work of Rodion Shchedrin, a Russiancomposer born in 1932. In typical Soundstreams fashion, thisconcert is an intensely collaborative project, involving the AmadeusChoir, Elmer Iseler Singers and ProArteDanza dance company. Andthen, book-ending the current listings period, Soundstreams is, asfar as I can tell, the first of the aforementioned major presenters outof the blocks with a concert celebrating the 100th anniversary ofcomposer John Cage’s birth. Titled “So Percussion: Cage @100” theconcert will feature works by Cage and turntablist Nicole Lizée.With the 100th anniversary of Cage’s birth not till September,pianist Kate Boyd is also fast off the mark, with back to back performancesThursday, February 16: first a noon hour lecture/recitalon Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes at University of Waterloo; then aconcert the same evening of the complete Sonatas andInterludes, for the Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber MusicSociety. Not to be outdone, the Music Gallery, a weekearlier, on February 10, presents a programme titled“Post-Classical Series: The Cold War Songbook – Pilgrimsand Progress” which also features Cage’s Sonatas andInterludes (1948) performed by Vicky Chow, piano. The“Cold War Songbook” then continues February 11 with aprogramme of piano works by Ustvolskaya, Carter andFeldman, featuring the pianistic post-classical virtuosityof Stephen Clarke and Simon Docking.The next day, February 12, at the Music Gallery, it’sContinuum Contemporary Music back in action with a aprogramme featuring music by Ligeti, Oesterle, Current,Klanac and Richard Marsella, who also guests on the barrelorgan. And it’s busy busy as usual all month at upstartGallery 345, with concerts worth noting on February19 (pianist Adam Sherkin), 20 (soprano Xin Wang), 25(mezzo Marta Herman), and 28 (Les Amis Concerts); andon March 7 (Norman Adams, cello; Lee Pui Ming, piano;Erin Donovan, percussion).It’s a bit ironic to be giving the city’s largest ensembles the shortestshrift in this column, but that’s sometimes the way things fallout. First, Esprit Orchestra continues the season’s torrid pace withtheir third, full-scale Koerner Hall concert, on February 26. Titled“Gripped By Passion,” it features works by Vivier, Scelsi, Rea andSchnittke, the vocal magic of mezzo, Krisztina Szabó and dazzlingTSO violist Teng Li.And March 1, 3 and 7, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra presentsits eighth annual New Creations Festival of which we will havemuch more to say in the coming issue.20 thewholenote.comFebruary 1 – March 7, 2012

Simplicity ItselfSIMONE DESILETS“It’s such an incredibly simple instrument. You can holdphilosophical, physical or constructional arguments against thisview, but it still won’t change the fact that it is, in its very heartof hearts, an incredibly simple instrument. And yet it is so hardto make it sound beautiful. That is what makes it so fascinating.You start practising and it sounds ridiculous. It is the mostamazing challenge to create a small, but personal musicaluniverse with this instrument.”The subject of this description — the recorder — is an instrumentthat I personally find very beautiful. I love the organ-like chuffof its breath in consort, and the purity of its angelic voice insolo repertoire. If you’re of like mind, you’ll be very pleased at theprospects before you this month; if you are not, well, be preparedto be converted, as not one, but two internationally famous virtuosorecorder players are performing in Toronto, one at the beginning ofFebruary and one near the end. The details:The comment which begins this article was uttered by a trulyamazing musician, the Swiss virtuoso Maurice Steger, who appearsnear the start of the month. Steger has been called “the Paganini ofthe recorder”; one concert review states that he’s “unquestionably anartist operating to the furthest boundaries of what is technically andtonally possible on the recorder.” Several reviews about him mentionthe spontaneity of his technique — arising, no doubt, from the challengehe gives himself to create a “personal musical universe” in themusic he plays. He’ll be displaying his uncanny abilities in musicby Telemann, Sammartini and Geminiani, in a concert which alsofeatures the wonderfulchamber orchestra Les Maurice Steger.Violons du Roy. Withmusic director BernardLabadie, Les Violonswill contribute music byHandel and Geminiani.The performance takesplace on February 5 atKoerner Hall.When one considerstouring recorder players,one can’t help thinking ofMarion Verbruggen, thecelebrated Dutch virtuosowho has brought thewarmth of her personalityto audiences all over theworld for many years.With her sheer good-naturedpresence and verveas a performer, I thinkshe could win anyone over to the love of the recorder. She’s backin Toronto to add a colourful presence to Tafelmusik’s “VirtuosoVivaldi” concerts, which feature a splash of concertos: mandolin,viola d’amore and lute, cello, bassoon, and recorder played byVerbruggen. Except for the Concerto for Recorder and Bassoon byTelemann, the music is all by Vivaldi. These concerts will take placeon February 21 at George Weston Recital Hall, and February 23to 26 at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre.So many musical treasures this month, with some of themunfortunately occurring on the same evening:• February 8 to 12: One of Tafelmusik’s biggest and most ambitiousartistic creations to date, “House of Dreams,” is the latest of AlisonMackay’s multi-media programmes. The audience is taken to fiveMARCO BORGGREVEFebruary 1 – March 7, 21

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